Category Archive: Comic Review

Apr 08 2014

Unwritten – Mike Carey, art: Peter Gross

Cej first mentions this title in a general review, but the series certainly  deserves a larger mention. Take Harry Potter (make it real), add your Master’s in Literature, a Dan Brown-esq conspiracy, and plenty of murder and intrigue and vola! As of this writting there are seven volumes (Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity, Inside Man, Dead Man’s Knock, Leviathan, On to Genesis, Tommy Taylor and the War of Words, and The Wound) although I’ve only read the first five–get on the ball Cej and get me the rest! What, you expect me to buy my own comics?!

Tommy Taylor is a famous children’s story character, or is he just the son of the author? Or is he not the author’s son at all? And is Tommy really the character in the story and are the stories real?! In any event, why do so many people want to capture or kill Tom? What is his link to a cabal and can they actually shape reality through the control of stories? So many questions and I’m enjoying all of them. Carey delves into ideas like the collective unconscious, the power of myth, censorship, childhood celebraties, and lots and lots on literature. Well done!

 

Apr 05 2014

Enigma – Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo

I heard so much about this comic and everyone says how great it is. Honestly, I couldn’t stand it. The art is scratchy, the coloring is dull, the plot is boring (it’s about a boring guy who comes across a mysterious superhero and even more mysterious) villains), and comes to an end without coming to a conclusion, and the only thing that makes the comic the slightest bit interesting [SPOILER BUT WHO CARES BECAUSE THE COMIC ISN'T VERY GOOD] is that the main character turns out to be gay. Ooh, how shocking, that certainly makes the comic worth reading, since it is about a guy who suddenly discovers he is gay without any past hint of homosexual feeling or experience? Yeah, right. Skip this crap. 

Mar 28 2014

Message to Adolf (Part 1) – Osamu Tezuka

Admittedly, it was somewhat awkward to carry around an over 600 page hardcover with a picture of Hitler on it. The story revolves around Japan and its relationship with Germany and the Nazi party during the lead up to WWII. There are really three Adolfs: The obvious one and two German boys living in Japan, one Jewish and one half Japanese son of a German official. The story is often amazing in its scope and dedication to pointing out the absolute horrors of Nazism and Japanese complicity with it as well as their own fascist past.

Still, there are issues, the art often becomes too cartoony, one of the heroes engages in rape (yes, I’m arguing that it was rape), and every women falls madly in love with that same character as soon as they meet him. My biggest complaint–and perhaps this is the librarian in me–revolves around the McGuffin. I won’t spoil anything, but let me just say that if a document is completely inaccessible, it might as well not exist. Don’t believe me? Ok, I have the meaning of life written down right next to me. Would you like it? Oh well. Too much of the story deals with documents that would change the world, which is why the bad guys want to destroy them (not that they couldn’t just say they were fake), but they don’t need to if no one sees them! Useful information needs to be used to be useful, thus the term.

Interestingly, there is a lot of stress made about how kind and helpful Japan is to Jews; however, everything I’ve read shows that the Japanese–while rarely every meeting anyone Jewish–have extreme prejudice against them. Still, I’m very impressed that Tezuka tackles such a subject, forcing Japanese to recognize their role in the most important event of the last hundred years. The tale involved politics, intrigue, history, difficulties in coming of age, mindless racism/prejudice, and bravery. I look forward to reading the conclusion. 

Mar 24 2014

The Nobody – Jeff Lemire

Lemire presents a quiet tale about a stranger who comes to an isolated fishing village, attracting attention, and becoming the center of gossip as to who is this mysterious man covered in bandages. Based on H. G. Wells’ The Invisible Man, it’s a nice read with lovely illustrations.

Mar 22 2014

Magic Boy & The Robot Elf – James Kochalka

I never know what to think of Kochalka’s work. The drawings and ideas seem so whimsical that I always think it is going to be fun and lighthearted, but often it takes a rather dark turn. There’s a cat but it’s an alien and there is an old man/boy and he gets usurped by his robot invention and there’s a love interest and a hint of incest. I just don’t know what to think. 

Mar 19 2014

Indestructible Universe – Morgan Pielli

I totally admire anyone who creates and produces their own comic. That said I just wasn’t thrilled with this compilation of comics. Yes, there were many interesting and good comics, but they are a bit random and all short–which just doesn’t allow for a ton of depth. Take a look.

Mar 15 2014

The New Deadwardians – Dan Abnett

Chief Inspector George Suttle, last of the homicide detectives of a post Victorian England wherein the upper classes are vampires and the 99% are, well, the same as always, but some sort of plague has set off a zombie epidemic. Suttle attempts to unravel the inexplicable murder of a vampire only to find out unwanted truths. This is an interesting idea, but I felt the entire story was designed as a set up for a future story, and that all the characters were only there to fulfill archetypes, in other words that were flat or Edwardian.  

Mar 12 2014

We Can Fix It! A Time Travel Memoir – Jess Fink

This is a cute comic that starts off giving a completely different message as to what it is actually about. A woman travels back in time to meet her younger, awkward self and promptly starts to make out with herself (so is this incest, homosexuality, pedophilia, masterbation, or some combo?). I almost stopped reading at this point (not that I’m against comics wherein woman are making out!) because I just didn’t think there would be much to the work. I’m glad I continued as it turned into a charming tale about the futility of regret and foolishness of wishing you could change the past–”if only I knew then what I know now” type of thing. Of course all such tales are based on the idea that your life turns out ok despite the problems; no one ever seems to write about the crap lives. Then again, who would read those? In any event, consider getting the book here.

Mar 08 2014

Asterios Polyp – David Mazzucchelli

Asterios Polyp is a professor and architect who leaves his town and job after lightning destroys his apartment, becoming a mechanic and questioning his life and how/why he became the (not very likable) person he is. Those that remember Mazzucchelli from his amazing Daredevil covers may be rather shocked and confused at this simply drawn and rather deep tale that has no resemblance to traditional comic books. While the work is very impressive, and I must commend Mazzucchelli for following his heart and producing a comic tome that takes the artform to a strictly literary level, I can’t say that I really enjoyed it. Thanks to Cej for giving this book to me and I will read it again to see if a second reading allows me to “get it.”

Mar 01 2014

Harley Quinn: Preludes And Knock-Knock Jokes – Karl Kesel

My friend, Rainbow Blight, gave this to me as she knows how in love I am with Batman’s female villains. It’s rather a perfect gift as it focuses on various femme fatales of DC’s Gotham’s scene and drawn by Terry Dodson to exploit my every fantasy. The stories were fun, if nothing amazing, but I like the idea of trying to flesh out this often sidelined, sidekick character (even if it is hardly very feminist oriented).

Feb 27 2014

Siege: Mighty Avengers – Dan Slott

I have to say I like the new Wasp (i.e. Hank Pym, too many AKAs to mention) as Slott plays up the fact that he is, and always was, an amazing scientist. Sadly, I couldn’t really care less about all the other characters that are making up the Avengers in this collection. I felt the beginning  story of the evil Osborn and his fake Avengers v. Pym and his group to see who can take down the Absorbing Man was pretty good, but the point of Siege (Osborn v. Asgard) didn’t really involve Pym or his band of wannabes, so why bother?

This cover picture, by the way, doesn’t really take place.

Feb 21 2014

The Bloody Benders – Rick Geary

Part of his A Treasury of Victorian Murder series, The Saga of The Bloody Benders is probably my favorite of Geary works, mainly because it reads like a Lovecraftian story. Apparently, there was a “family” of murders in post civil war era Kansas, and Geary describes what we know, don’t know, and speculate about the killers in a succinct and interesting fashion. 

Feb 15 2014

Birds of Prey: Sensei & Student and Between Dark & Dawn – Gail Simone

Just as it might help comic trades to have titles for their volumes, so might it help to number them. Either way, as I mentioned last review, I read many comics in the order Cej lends them to me. So while I’m aware I may have missed some volumes, you could always blame him. I really like the idea of Birds of Prey, you have a strong (and female) writer presenting an array of (usually and mostly) female super-heroes of various power levels, tackling mysteries and crimes in smart and skillful ways. It’s great to read about so many underdeveloped, or at least underutilized, characters without them playing backup to male heroes.  Sensei & Student largely revolves around Black Canary and (yes, however unlikely) Lady Shiva as they attempt to avenge the death of their martial arts teacher. Between Dark & Dawn has Huntress undercover in a cult while Oracle fights off a cyberattack. The problem I have with the series (as oppose to the collections themselves, which were fine stories) is that on one hand they spotlight females of the DC universe in fine feminist fashion, but on the other, the art is total cheesecake! Scantily clad women with enormous, gravity defying, boobs in sexy posses, it’s as if Simone is writing serious work while, unbeknownst to her,  Ed Benes (and others) are drawing pin-ups! What makes it sadder still is that Simone must be aware of this fact, and the scumbag editors of DC get to eat their cake and have it too by claiming to have women oriented comics, but it’s not their fault there are no realistically drawn women in them. When was the last time you saw Superman half naked or the outline of Bat-Man’s crotch?

Feb 08 2014

Captain America (vol. 3) – Ed Brubaker

I really haven’t been paying attention to the volume numbers of this series, I just read them in the order Cej lends them to me. Not that it matters. This trade is complete in and of itself, and more to the point, this is a good story in and of itself. Brubaker is the best Captain America writer there is. Why? Because he can take some nobodies like Hydra and goofy heroes/villains from the 80s (the crying time as I like to think of it) and make a compelling action/crime story about terrorists, possible government corruption, justice, and relationships (love and friendship). In a word, he makes it: real.

Jan 26 2014

Black Widow: Kiss or Kill – Duane Swierczynski

A senator is killed and his journalist son is about to follow suit unless the super-spy can figure out what is happening, why, and how to stop it. This was an OK story, but too much happens that we have no idea how and we’re suppose to just accept it. It read to me like a rough draft or a story that was suppose to have another couple of issues but was cut down.

Jan 19 2014

Captain America – Jason Aaron

Be aware that this is about the Ultimates version of America’s super-soldier, so its not the boyscout we all love. Aaron, who has brought us dark and dirty stories, takes on this mainstream icon with mixed results. Largely ripping off Apocalypse Now, Captain America goes deep into Cambodia searching for a Vietnam era super-soldier (you may recognize his look from decade old pages of Daredevil) who is helping rouge nations create their own human WMD. I enjoyed this, especially considering how stubborn so many political debaters are and intractable their positions in real life (read it, you’ll see), but just as glad that this didn’t taint the Steve Rogers I know.

Jan 06 2014

1 Month 2 Live

This is a slapped together attempt by Marvel to create a poignent statement about mortality and the meaning of heroism. Perhaps if the story wasn’t chock full of cameros and seemingly randomly written by various creators, this tale might make a statement about how heroism is standing up for your beliefs and supporting your family. Instead, the story about how an average person develops Molecule Man superpower that are killing him becomes a statement about how only people with impressive abilities make any difference in our world.

Dec 15 2013

Amelia Rules! Her Permanent Record – Jimmy Gownley

I love the Amelia books; I just have one problem: There have been so many different formats that I don’t know which collections I actually have. This edition, at least, has a listing of titles and covers so that you actually can tell what exists even if I have to re-buy some books. I happen to pick this one since it was the latest I could find and knew I didn’t have it (plus I was with Cej in DC and wanted to support the comic shop and link the memory of the trip with the book (yes, I know that’s weird)) even if that meant I had missed a storyline. I read this on the long train ride back to NYC and here’s the problem: The books are about the fun loving elementary school girl Amelia and her crazy friends and idol rock-star Aunt, and this one is too. Unfortunately, that is all this collection is. All the characters, all the elements, all the plot are present, and none of the depth. Because I know the characters and their history I could understand and enjoy the story, but there was nothing deep, moving, or really new about it. Overall a very superficial tale that first time readers would be bored with and many return readers will be disappointed in.

Dec 13 2013

White Tiger: A Hero’s Compulsion – Tamora Pierce and Timothy Liebe

It took two writers to make a comic that just made me say “huh” all the time. The new White Tiger super-hero fights crime (well, duh), that should be straight forward. So why did I feel that I had to keep reading passages and wondering both what was happening and why all the time. Maybe I was just half asleep while reading it (that could explain why I saw shadow images such as the  person jumping down from the fire escape after White Tiger on page two or the arrows that show you the order to read the panels in during the last issue). However, I think it was just that the story wasn’t very good. I will give props to having the Cobra as a major villain. Rarely do we have any attempts to make a C list character interesting. 

Dec 10 2013

Shadowland

The self titled collection along with Shadowland: Power Man and Shadowland: Blood on the Streets have two things in common. One, they deal with the fall-out of the blind vigilante, Daredevil, joining up with the Hand ninja clan to take over part of Manhattan and how NYC heroes deal with the situation. Two, they suck.

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